The BARN offers a no barrier, peer recovery support environment, that is open to the public (a minimum of) 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the week, 365 days a year. Trained volunteers staff the front desk, welcoming individuals, offering information about recovery resources, details about support groups and other BARN activities. The BARN environment is substance free, safe, clean and welcoming. Individuals choosing to walk through the BARN doors immediately are exposed to flyers and information about various recovery supports, both BARN and community coordinated. In addition, the atmosphere of the BARN encourages positive and supportive interactions between individuals, so verbal conversations regularly ignite between once strangers, leading to newly developing vital peer relationships.
When you enter the Bangor Area Recovery Network, on most days, you are greeted by a woman with a warm smile and a welcoming voice. This woman is Sharon. Sharon is a wife, a mother, a grandmother, friend to many, a woman in recovery and is the part-time volunteer coordinator for BARN. She is someone who makes BARN a home for many. Sharon is an example of how we envisioned BARN ten years ago.
Sharon’s path in coming to BARN is not much different from the many people who attend meetings and events here. Sharon started drinking at the age of 16 and had been abusing alcohol for over 30 years. She describes herself as a binge drinker and would have periods of non-drinking but would quickly return. She will share that she once had ten years of not drinking but states she really was just a “dry drunk” which meant nothing really changed and she continued to be unhappy. When she returned to drinking, she quickly started where she left off. One night, after a day of drinking, she woke up to realize she had broken the one rule she said she never would do, and that was drink and drive. She had driven home in a black out, she had no memory of driving or how she got home. At this point, she knew she had to get a grip on her drinking, she was lonely and unhappy and it was then she decided to seek help from a counselor. He suggested that she start attending meetings at the BARN. When she first heard him say “BARN”, her thoughts went to her childhood, where if you were sent to the barn, it was to be punished. Sharon liked this counselor, however, and thought she would give it a try. It was her first step toward her recovery and to a healthy happy life.
Although BARN was welcoming, she struggled with her own embarrassment about being there and what she did while she was using. She had no self-worth and did not believe she was worth recovery. Sharon had nowhere to go, no real friends and her family was no longer connected. The BARN seemed like the only place to be, so she started coming every day. She spent her first sober thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s at the BARN and she began to think of the fellowship as family. It was a safe, nonjudgmental place to be. The volunteer coordinator started to give Sharon tasks to do around the BARN, which made Sharon start to feel valued and that she belonged somewhere. As Sharon grew more confident in herself, the volunteer coordinator gave her more and more responsibility. When the volunteer coordinator left her job, it was Sharon she recommended to take on this responsibility.
Sharon this year celebrated four years of sobriety and to her own amazement, the room was filled with people. Attending the celebration was her BARN family, and her many family members. Sharon has now been able to have her children and grandchildren be part of her life and credits the support of the BARN and her sponsor for making this happen. The BARN also is where she met her husband Bob, and when it came time to get married their ceremony was at the BARN. Together they are grateful and working together in their recovery. Bob and Sharon both love being a part of watching people thrive and learning to live life sober. Sharon said this year’s celebration was special and one she will never forget. She had her daughters and grandchildren by her side. Her son, who had not been a part of previous celebrations, attended, and whispered in his mother’s ear “I am proud of you and love you”. Sharon said, “This was a gift she never thought possible”. Sharon works hard on her recovery and is grateful for her many gifts she has received in recovery and at the BARN.
142 Center Street
Brewer, Maine 04412